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A Publication for VRS Employers
March 2018 | Archives
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Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask: What are some tips to help employees safeguard their myVRS accounts?

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Modernization Webinar: Certifying Retirements in myVRS Navigator

Starting this fall, the retirement certification process for employers moves online. Register now and mark your calendars for 1-2 p.m. Thursday, March 22, for a webinar of the new retirement certification process.

The presentation will outline new employer procedures for certifying all retirement applications in myVRS Navigator. The processing changes are in preparation for accepting members’ retirement applications online, starting in 2019. This webinar is the first in a series of modernization updates VRS will provide this year to help prepare you and members for online retirement.

Stay in the know: VRS has made numerous enhancements to myVRS in recent years, with the biggest change now planned for 2019 — online retirement. Check out the modernization webpage for details.


Retiring or Separating Employees May Keep Funds With VRS

To withdraw defined contribution savings or keep the funds in place is often a question for employees as they retire or separate from their VRS-covered positions.

Whether they set aside retirement dollars through the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and the Virginia Cash Match Plan or the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and the Hybrid 401(a) Cash Match Plan, VRS members have a choice of keeping the funds in place until they’re age 70½ or rolling them into an IRA or other eligible retirement plan.

Leaving funds in their VRS defined contribution accounts may be a cost-effective option, as the yearly administrative fee is $30.50, even if the member has multiple accounts.

Five Questions Members Should Ask

  1. Do I understand the plan fees and how they compare to VRS plan fees?
  2. Are the investments suitable for my situation? Are they competitively priced?
  3. Will I receive personalized one-on-one assistance when I need it? What other education resources are available?
  4. Is there plan oversight and protection?
  5. Can I withdraw my money when I need it without a tax penalty?

To help employees with this important decision, refer them to the appropriate Leaving Employment Guide:

These guides lay out several reasons why employees might decide to keep their money with VRS, including low fees, tax-efficient compounding, a variety of available investment options and support from knowledgeable Defined Contribution Plans Retirement Specialists

Voluntary Contributions

Next Voluntary Contribution Deadline Is March 15: Help Hybrid Plan Employees Save for Tomorrow

Hybrid Retirement Plan members may voluntarily contribute up to 4 percent of their creditable compensation each month to the defined contribution component of their retirement plan. They may increase their voluntary contribution elections on a quarterly basis. The next quarterly deadline is March 15 at 4 p.m.

Encourage employees to maximize retirement savings: They’ll just need to log in through Account Access, select Contributions for the Hybrid 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and click on Change My Contribution Amount. Or, they can call ICMA-RC Investor Services at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 1). The Hybrid Member Paycheck Calculator helps show the impact of voluntary contributions and other deductions on employees’ paychecks.

Looking for ideas to promote voluntary contributions? Download the voluntary contributions toolkit PDF Icon to engage, communicate with and educate your hybrid plan employees. The toolkit features flyers you can post or email to employees that clearly demonstrate the value of saving, including:

Review your Snapshot: Accurate reporting of contributions to the defined contribution component of the hybrid plan is essential each pay period. As a best practice, take time to review your Snapshot each month to ensure you are withholding the correct amount from each employee’s paycheck.

The Creating EZLink Contribution Submissions Online webinar covers the full process, from creating an initial file through submission. If you need additional assistance, contact the ICMA-RC Defined Contribution Plans Employer Support Team at 1-877-327-5261 (select option 3).


Face to Face With VRS: Get In-Depth Training on Coordinating VRS Benefits

There’s a lot to understand when it comes to coordinating VRS benefits for your employees. To make it easier, we’re bringing the training to you. Join VRS for updated instructor-led classes to learn more about the ins and outs of VRS benefit administration. The classes cover a variety of topics:

  • Introduction to VRS
  • The VRS Toolkit
  • Membership
  • Purchase of Prior Service
  • Death Benefits
  • Disability Retirement
  • Service Retirement
  • Post-Retirement Benefits

Held throughout the state, these sessions present an opportunity for you to learn firsthand in a classroom setting and engage VRS staff on key benefit topics.

New to your job? The full-day Introduction to VRS course will give you a high-level overview of the benefits VRS offers. Learn more about membership, the purchase of prior service, various service and disability retirement benefits and death benefits so that you can counsel employees effectively.

Dig deeper into key VRS topics: If you’re an experienced VRS benefits administrator, then Coordinating VRS Benefits courses will help you dig deeper into the specifics of refunds, purchase of prior service, death benefits, and service and disability retirement.

For more information and to register for a class near you, visit the Coordinating VRS Benefits Instructor-Led Training page on the VRS website.


 Employer Training & Events

All your training needs, covered in one place:In addition to instructor-led training, VRS offers a comprehensive educational program to help employers understand VRS benefits, perform necessary business responsibilities and counsel employees:

VRS has scheduled a number of webinars that explore a single topic in depth:

Title Description Date/Time
Life Insurance Learn more about eligibility, beneficiaries and benefits. March 28, 10-11 a.m.
Enrolling and Maintaining Employees in myVRS Navigator Get step-by-step instructions for enrolling employees, updating salary records and making job name and employment status changes. April 26, 1-3 p.m.
Retirement Payout Options Understand the four retirement payout options (basic benefit, survivor option, partial lump-sum option payment and the advance pension option). May 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
View All


Important Reminder: Transferring Purchase of Prior Service (PPS) Payroll Agreements

Employees may purchase prior service from previous public employment, active duty military service, an eligible period of leave or VRS refunded service as credit in their retirement plan.

However, questions sometimes arise when employees, who are in the midst of purchasing service through a pre-tax payroll agreement, transfer between VRS-participating employers.

VRS automatically continues a PPS payroll agreement when an employee moves from one state agency to another without a break in service. This is because the Commonwealth of Virginia is considered one employer.

On the other hand, political subdivisions and school divisions, even if located within the same jurisdiction, are considered separate employers. Likewise, political subdivisions and school divisions are considered separate employers from commonwealth state agencies. PPS payroll agreements will end when the employee transfers jobs across the separate entities.

What You Need to Know

  • The state agency employing the member on the first business day of the month has the responsibility to collect the “total monthly deduction” for the month the member terminates. PPS contributions follow the same first-business-day-of-the-month rules as other VRS contributions.
  • The new state agency employer is responsible for the full PPS payroll deduction the following month.
  • Please verify that PPS payroll agreements for new hires from other state agencies are transferred in myVRS Navigator to your state agency within two weeks of the enrollment transfer. Contact VRS if this does not occur in myVRS Navigator. Be sure to deduct a full PPS contribution every month until the agreement is completed and all months have been purchased.
  • When a member transfers jobs between a political subdivision and a school division, between political subdivisions, or between a state agency and a political subdivision or a school division or vice versa, the PPS payroll agreement will terminate and cannot be transferred to a new VRS-participating employer.
  • The employee may make a lump-sum purchase of the months remaining in the payroll agreement, or set up a post-tax agreement with the new employer once the end date of the original payroll pre-tax agreement has passed. The months of service in a terminated agreement can never again be purchased on a pre-tax basis.
In Case You Missed It

Make Retirement Mobile Ready:
Download the VRS DCP App

Connecting your employees with the defined contribution components of their retirement plan is easier than ever with the VRS DCP mobile app.

Employees who have VRS defined contribution accounts (i.e., those in the Hybrid Retirement Plan, Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, Virginia Cash Match Plan or an optional retirement plan) can manage their accounts and boost their investment knowledge on the go from their iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet.

Using the app, employees can:
  • Log in to view their balance and increase voluntary contributions.
  • Use plan calculators to see how much to contribute.
  • Get contact information for local defined contribution plan specialists.
  • Receive text updates from their plan with TextAccess.

Download the app! Search for VRS DCP in Google Play or the App Store.

Promote the app: VRS has developed a promotional toolkit PDF Icon for the new VRS DCP mobile app. Add clickable images to your intranet site, send and post the flyer or add a mobile app slide to your next presentation.

Financial Literacy Month

Look Ahead to Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month. VRS is here to help your employees improve their understanding of financial principles and best practices. We offer a variety of educational presentations and resources related to retirement planning and financial literacy, including:

  • Are You on Track? For Plan 1 and Plan 2 members (hired before January 1, 2014), this presentation covers VRS membership and the importance of planning now for the future. Topics include an overview of VRS benefits and optional programs, purchase of prior service and member resources such as our online self-service site, myVRS.
  • Are You Ready to Retire? This presentation guides current Plan 1 and Plan 2 members (hired before January 1, 2014), who are within five years of retirement, through important retirement decisions (such as when to retire and selecting a benefit payout option). Other topics include using myVRS and benefits after retirement.
  • Your Next Steps: This presentation walks Plan 1 and Plan 2 members (hired before January 1, 2014) who are fewer than 12 months away from retirement through the retirement application process. Topics include a timeline of action items, an overview of the required forms, post-retirement considerations (such as taxes and COLA) and VRS resources available to them after retirement.
  • Nearing Retirement Workshop: During this half-day workshop, industry professionals will share information to help members better prepare for the transition to retirement. Featured topics include social and psychological changes that accompany retirement, how to determine retirement costs and the timing of Social Security benefits.
  • Building Retirement Security Workshop: This half-day workshop covers a range of topics including credit and debt management and retirement planning.
  • Hybrid Retirement Plan Overview webinar: This presentation covers the difference between the defined benefit and defined contribution components of the plan, mandatory and voluntary contributions and the employer match.
  • Hybrid Retirement Plan Features and Benefits webinar: Hybrid plan members can learn more about the defined benefit and defined contribution components of their plan as well as review investment options and other benefits.
  • myVRS Financial Wellness: Personal finance just got personal! VRS members who log into their myVRS accounts now have access to personalized content through the myVRS Financial Wellness program, powered by Enrich. They can delve into financial education resources tailored to their individual profiles, set personal goals and save financial plans. Members also will receive content recommendations, based on their retirement plan and age. Calculators, educational games and mini-courses focus on a variety of financial topics. Watch a short video overview about myVRS Financial Wellness.
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Announcements  Announcements

General Assembly Regular Session Winding Down: The 2018 Virginia General Assembly regular session ends March 10. You can track all House and Senate bills affecting VRS policy and benefits by visiting our legislation webpage.

Tax Withholding, Health Premium Changes Affect Retiree Benefit Payments: You may get calls from retirees who notice an increase in the net amount of their retirement benefit due to recent changes in federal tax law, a reduction in FICA tax withholding or a decrease in the Advantage 65 Medicare supplement. Retirees affected by these changes will receive a benefit statement update by mail.

VRS Publishes 2017 Comprehensive and Popular Annual Financial Reports: VRS’ 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) PDF Icon is now available for download. Its companion, the Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) PDF Icon, presents an easy-to-read summary and overview of key VRS financial, investment and statistical highlights.

LODA Training Now Available in Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center: Employers are required by law to train employees who are eligible for Line of Duty Act (LODA) benefits. The first training must happen within 30 days of being hired and then every two years thereafter. The LODA Overview for Participants satisfies this training requirement. You can direct individual employees to www.valoda.org to view the recorded presentation. For employers that have access to the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center, participants also may access the LODA training there. Employees must log-in to access the training.

Keep Your EZ Link Account Up to Date: To ensure you get important communications from ICMA-RC, keep your EZLink account information up to date, especially email addresses. Be sure to log-in periodically. Your account will be deactivated after 12 months of inactivity.

New to administering VRS benefits? Regardless of your title, if you help administer any of the VRS benefits provided to employees and are new to your position, we want to hear from you. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself to VRS. Our team can give you the tools and expertise you need as you get up to speed on all things VRS.

Order VRS Publications.


Member Education  Member Education & Events

Classroom and webinar courses are posted on the VRS website as they are scheduled. Plan 1 and Plan 2 members may register from our Education and Counseling pages for new offerings.

Several hybrid plan educational resources are available. Hybrid plan members can register for a group seminar or a one-on-one consultation to learn more about the hybrid plan defined benefit and defined contribution components as well as other VRS benefits. Hybrid plan seminars are available in various regions across Virginia.


Form Updates  Form Updates

VRS has updated the Notification of Electronic Payment Information (VRS-61) PDF Icon.

To ensure faster processing of forms — and to ensure you are using the most up-to-date versions of VRS forms — use the latest fillable versions of VRS forms on the website.

VRS now also accepts copies and faxes of all forms. All forms may be faxed to 804-786-9718. If you are on a deadline when faxing a document, please call or email to alert VRS of its pending arrival. Also, it is good practice to use a cover sheet, particularly if you are sending the fax to a specific VRS staff member.

Important note: VRS does not accept forms via email, which is not considered a secure form of communication.


Financial ReportingFinancial Reporting

Be sure to bookmark the employers’ Financial Reporting section, where you can find resources and links to assist with financial reporting related to VRS-administered benefit plans.

Security Tips

Your Turn to Ask Your Turn to Ask

Q: What are some tips to help VRS members safeguard their myVRS accounts?

Online security continues to be a hot topic and an ongoing concern in today’s digital world. It’s always helpful to remind members of best practices to protect their myVRS account information. Here are some tips you can pass along via email, newsletters or intranet:

  • Email is not secure: Don’t send confidential information, such as your Social Security number, when emailing VRS.
  • Claim your myVRS account right away: Even if you don’t plan to use myVRS immediately, taking ownership of your online account is a smart defensive move to help protect yourself from identity theft.
  • Don’t forget to log out: When you’ve finished using your myVRS account, log out. Do not simply close the browser window.
  • Think passphrase, not password: Avoid using stand-alone words. Instead, use phrases featuring a combination of upper- and lowercase characters, symbols and numbers. Start with a song lyric or a line from a favorite movie, and build from there. Substitute a few letters for characters, numbers or symbols.
  • Use a unique passphrase: Don’t use the same one for myVRS that you use with other accounts.
  • Change your passphrase often.
  • Do not share your myVRS login information with anyone.

Have a question?

Email the Employer Support Team or contact your Employer Representative.

Important Email Notice: Do not send personal or confidential information, such as a Social Security number, by email. VRS will send only non-confidential replies.

Copyright © 2018 Virginia Retirement System

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